LETTER: Update from Waring’s Creek group

Waring’s Creek, which flows from the western border of Picton to West Lake, roughly paralleling the Ridge Road, is a feature unique in PEC.

Unique because it is the only stream in PEC fed primarily by deep groundwater, making it cold enough to meet the strict habitat requirements of Brook (Speckled) Trout.

Trout disappeared from the creek as result of various human activities that caused silt buildup that covered their traditional spring fed spawning areas. This also caused the Ministry of Natural Resources to abandon a Brook trout hatchery along the stream. The Waring’s Creek Improvement Association (WCIA) has been actively rehabilitating the creek for over 25 years. Through shoreline work, tree planting and culvert upgrades, the WCIA and supportive landowners, have once again made the creek capable of supporting trout.

In a stream survey performed in 2018, biologists observed trout spawning nests (called redds). Though not proven, some experts believed they were made by Brook trout. Trout surviving in the creek are like “the canary in the coal mine” indicative of a healthy cold water ecosystem. Natural heritage features are a big reason that people want to visit and move to PEC.

The diminutive Waring’s creek is not a feature people know about or visit while they’re here! It’s successful rehabilitation is more symbolic of how a community, concerned about preserving a valuable ecosystem and fresh water resource, can come together for the benefit of the environment. But it’s not without significant costs, and various levels of government are not inclined to help out. At the outset, in 1993, the WCIA was encouraged, , and even awarded for its rehabilitative efforts. Moving forward to 1998, the WCIA found itself as the leading advocate in the defence against a proposal that would have seen 100 acres of Environmentally Protected woodlands become a sandpit. The WCIA instantly became an “organizzazione non grata” and faced both active and passive resistance from local and provincial government (MNR and MOE) as well as our own Conservation Authority.

It seems that aggregate extraction trumps the environment. The caring citizens of PEC came forward to help, including raising over $250,000 towards the Creek’s defence at a massive and successful OMB hearing that preserved the land as EP. The creek is still under threat by current and proposed sandpit operations in the watershed, and from possible housing developments in the headwater lands north and east of Sandy Hook Rd ( ie all the land behind Canadian Tire, No Frills , across to Sandy Hook Road). These lands play a vital role in maintaining the base water-flow of the creek.

Recently the WCIA engaged our professional team once again to produce a major submission to County Council suggestive a wide range of changes to the new OP to afford better protection for our natural heritage features. Regardless of what protections the new OP affords, future development proposals will be forthcoming as the excellent farmland in the above mentioned area, was unfortunately re-zoned to Urban Development status 10-15 years ago.

When these new proposals appear, we need to be prepared, hopefully with the support of Council and the OP, to ensure development is done in a way that mitigates potential damage in the watershed. If you would like to help support these efforts, The WCIA is accepting donations by mail to: WCIA, 636 County Rd 1, Picton, K0K 2T0, or by way of a Go Fund Me Page ( coming soon).

Dr. Cliff Rice